My daughter told me about the latest health fad among her group of acquaintances. She knows people who are spending $300 a month on the THRIVE program and claiming miraculous results. With a skeptic for a mother, my daughter knew enough to question the claims and do her own research; she was not impressed. She concluded that THRIVE was essentially selling caffeine and vitamins at exorbitant prices.
Claims on the website
THRIVE is offered by Le-Vel Brands, LLC. A slick video on the website asks:
Are you ready to hear about the hottest weight loss, nutrition and fitness plan sweeping North America? It’s called the THRIVE 8-week experience. The only premium lifestyle transformation plan. People from all walks of life are accomplishing their physical goals with THRIVE, and many are also accomplishing their financial goals by choosing to promote the experience.
- Weight management
- Joint support
- Pain management
- Antioxidant support
- Cognitive performance
- Lean muscle support
- Digestive and immune support
- Calms general discomfort
“You’re going to live, look, and feel Ultra Premium like never before.”
Testimonials: yes. Hype: yes. Evidence: no.
What are they selling?
The THRIVE experience involves setting and committing to an 8-week goal (anything from weight loss to looking better and having more energy) and taking supplement products: a combination of THRIVE Premium Lifestyle Capsules, THRIVE Ultra Micronized Lifestyle Shake Mix, and a skin patch with their patent pending Premium Lifestyle DFT (Dermafusion Technology). You can choose one of four THRIVE Premium Lifestyle Capsules: for men, for women, for premium lifestyle, and for premium lifestyle DFT.
The products are “naturopathic, gender specific and synergistic.” They contain mixtures of vitamins, minerals, plant extracts, anti-oxidants, enzymes, probiotics and amino acids: a little of everything. For example, the women’s formula includes vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, D3, folic acid, chromium, selenium, vanadium, and a “Proprietary Blend” of B. lactis, L. acidophilus, L. casei, l. helviticus, L. salvarius, L. plantarum, L rhamnosus, guarana caffeine, green tea caffeine, glucosamine, white willow ext., glutamine, green coffee bean, PEA, kelp, Irvingia extract, BCAA blend, theobromine, ginger ext, Citrus aurantium ext, aspartic acid, L-serine, grape seed ext, CoQ10, white tea ext.
There is no rationale for mixing all these ingredients, and no reason to think the effects are synergistic. The products contain caffeine in several forms: guarana, green coffee bean, green tea, white tea; these are listed as part of a proprietary blend, and the total amount of caffeine is not divulged. If this mixture actually has any effect beyond producing expensive urine, I would guess it might be similar to the effect of drinking a couple of cups of coffee.
And of course, “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”
Then there are THRIVE PLUS products for even GREATER RESULTS! Some examples: BOOST, a berry-flavored premium greens beverage designed to alkalize and energize your system, ACTIVATE, designed to activate your core (?!), while supporting clean healthy energy, clarity and performance, and BLACK LABEL, offering “mood support and of course, plenty of attitude.”
The newest product is FORM, “the world’s first sequentially absorbed collagen protein gel… a hybrid dietary supplement that delivers broad-based support to the body, including firm and healthy skin, weight management, lean muscle mass, post-exercise recovery and repair, and strong bones and joints.”
How are they selling it?
You can buy it online, and you can essentially get the products for free if you recruit others. It’s a multilevel marketing scheme that has reached over 3.5 million customers and $500 million annual revenue. It boasts the number one industry ranked car bonus. If you sell enough and recruit enough other promoters, you can also qualify for a lifestyle getaway for two with airfare to New Orleans. But we know from long, sad experience that only a few people at the top of an MLM hierarchy make any money, and the great majority of MLM distributors lose money. There is a Quackwatch-affiliated website, MLM Watch, that dispels the myths surrounding this marketing approach.
They offer lots of testimonials: “within 2-3 hours it completely changed my life.” “I’m the best version of me that’s ever existed. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.”
The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.” As the “Red Flags of Quackery” chart points out, you can stack manure up to the sky, but it’s still a pile of crap. On Science-Based Medicine, we know to question testimonials and ask for reliable evidence. What evidence does the Le-Vel company offer? Not even a shadow of a whisper of a suggestion of a thread.
And there are other supplement products involving caffeine where you can at least taste the coffee: Healthy Habits coffee and Genius Java. Most products like these have never been tested, and even when they have been clinically tested in a scientific trial, the results have been far from convincing.
Is there any reason to think that the supplement mixture in THRIVE is superior to any other? There is no rational basis to choose one of these products over the others.
Bottom line: does it work?
Maybe. How could we know? The only way to tell is with controlled scientific testing. But I’ll offer my educated guess that it doesn’t accomplish anything a healthy diet, exercise, and a couple of cups of coffee couldn’t accomplish at far less expense. And the idea of setting an 8-week goal for weight loss or self-improvement is undoubtedly a good one, but you don’t have to buy THRIVE products to do that. I’m not buying.
This article was originally published in the Science-Based Medicine Blog.